There has never been a better time to be a fan of American performance vehicles. Offerings are currently available with over 700 horsepower from each of the big three manufacturers, with a number of less powerful models filling out their extensive performance line-ups. While competition is fierce between brands, there are some models like the C7 Corvette ZR1 and the Camaro ZL1 1LE that participate in a bit of infighting. The folks over at Sport Auto decided to see which of these track-focused Chevrolet beasts is truly on top by sending them around the Hockenheim.
At first glance, these two sports cars don’t seem like they should compete with one another at all. The Corvette ZR1 is an insanely powerful car, thanks to its supercharged 6.2-liter LT5 V8 that pushes out 755 horsepower and 715 pound feet of torque. Six-piston front calipers and four-piston rear calipers wrap carbon-ceramic rotors in order to bring all those horses to rest. Other track focused bits include Magnetic Selective Ride Control and an available two-way-adjustable wing that offers maximum downforce for high speed stability and quicker lap times. Like the Corvette Racing C7.R race car, the ZR1’s wing is tied into the chassis for added strength. The $2,995 ZTK Track Package also includes a front splitter with carbon-fiber end caps, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, along with chassis and Magnetic Ride Control tuning for increased track performance.
Like the ZTK package on the Corvette ZR1, the $7,500 1LE package on the Camaro ZL1 brings lap times to forefront. Under the hood sits the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 internally known as LT4, good for 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque in this application. A large carbon fiber wing that produces 300 pounds of downforce at 150 mph works in tandem with air deflectors and dive planes on the front fascia to help the car stick to the racetrack. Massive 325-section Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R rubber out back puts the power down, and Brembo 6-piston front and 4-piston rear brakes help to get this Camaro stopped. The Camaro ZL1 1LE also utilizes Multimatic DSSV dampers front and rear for improved stability and ride control.
Despite both cars having trick suspensions and track-focused aerodynamic packages, the Corvette does make over 100 more horsepower and weighs 300 pounds less. While this seems like an automatic win for the ZR1, Auto Sport shows us how close these cars are on track. The short version is that yes, the Corvette was three seconds faster around Hockenheim, but the ride looks much hairier. That 755 horsepower can induce power-oversteer in any gear, and even with Christian Gebhardt behind the wheel, the car slid out onto the grass during turn one.
Despite its hair on fire nature, the Corvette ZR1 was able to carry more speed through the tight hairpins, which helped further highlight the cars straight line speed on corner exit. In contrast, the Camaro ZL1 1LE looks very planted throughout the lap, delivering all 650 horsepower with relative ease. Gebhardt had a much easier time pushing the Camaro around the track, something we think would translate to more mortal drivers as well. If the ZL1 would have had the optional 10 speed automatic, it might have been able to creep a little closer to the ZR1’s throne.
The irony of it all is that neither the C7 ZR1 nor the Camaro ZL1 1LE are allowed for sale in the EU.